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Nimbus Fish Hatchery

salmon at Nimbus Fish Hatchery
Nimbus Fish Hatchery ponds

With the powerful swish of its tail, a brightly colored salmon jumps more than 20 steps - one at a time - to the top of the Nimbus Fish Hatchery ladder as the annual migration takes place each fall. Each November, families enjoy visiting the hatchery to witness this event which is a vital component to the survival of salmon and steelhead in the lower American River.

Since 1958, the Nimbus Fish Hatchery has been successfully providing mitigation for the loss of natural fish habitat in conjunction with the US fish and Wildlife Service, the California Department of Fish and Game and the US Bureau of Reclamation.

Once they make their way up the fish ladder, the fish are sorted and spawned on a table. An average salmon female has more than 5,000 eggs. The eggs are housed in the spawning building and the fish are raised until they are about 4 to 6 inches long. They are then released into the Sacramento River-San Joaquin Estuary. Steelhead are also raised at the hatchery and later released in the Sacramento River near Rio Vista.

Although the fish ladder is quiet during other times of the year, there are hands-on activities for families all year long as they can feed the fish in the various ‘nursery” tanks as they tour the center. Children can follow the growth of the fish from egg to fingerling. In mid-October, the hatchery hosts the annual American River Salmon Festival which offers music, art, food, and recreation with an emphasis on providing education on the life of the Pacific Salmon.

The Visitor Center is open everyday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and offers displays and tours. It is located at Hazel Avenue in Rancho Cordova, just off Highway 50. It is also an easy stop from the American River Bike Trail which runs adjacent to the hatchery. So, jump off the bike and enjoy the salmon experience.